Medieval Africa’s Amazing Riches

The Richest Man in the World

Credit: Bibliothèque nationale de France

The Catalan Atlas, printed in 1375, depicts the richest man of his day: Mansa Musa, the emperor of 14th-century Mali. A replica of the Atlas is on show at the Block museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The Atlas is part element} of an exhibition at the museum referred to as “Caravan of Gold,” highlighting the immense wealth concentrated in Africa within the Medieval period. Musa’s lands were the richest gold-producing region in the world at the time, consistent with the Block museum, and he is shown in the Atlas admiring a gold coin. [Read more about the medieval map and African art exhibit]

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